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Melissa Swann Named Director of Pepperdine University’s Heidelberg Program

Melissa Swann

Melissa Swann has been named the next director of Pepperdine University’s Heidelberg program. Swann, who until this appointment served as the assistant director of global education for William & Mary, is a distinguished and capable leader with 15 years of experience in international education. She will begin her new role at Pepperdine on July 1, 2024. 

“Melissa’s substantial resume and success with global studies gives me great confidence in her ability to uphold the integrity of Pepperdine’s oldest and most storied program in Heidelberg, Germany,” says Ron Cox, Pepperdine’s dean of International Programs. “With Melissa’s support, Seaver College will continue to uphold the mission of its International Programs in Heidelberg by empowering students to develop global competence and cultural humility through inclusive learning communities, academic excellence, real-world experience, and faith formation.” 

Swann began her professional career by serving in the United States Navy for five years as an aircrewman and avionics technician. Following her years of service, she earned both a bachelor of arts in German and a master of science in sustainability from Lipscomb University. Swann worked for her alma mater for 14 years, including 11 years as Vienna site director and assistant director of European programs. This extensive overseas experience led Swann to her position at William & Mary. 

Swann's leadership experience, background, and strong commitment to study abroad programs, complemented by her fluency in German and dual US/German citizenship, uniquely qualify her to effectively lead Pepperdine's Heidelberg Program.

“Pepperdine’s reputation for transformational, high-impact study abroad programs has been a source of inspiration for me and the gold standard by which I measured my success while directing a program in Vienna, Austria,” says Swann. “Getting to know my wonderful colleagues in Heidelberg and hearing such positive feedback from former Heidelberg students and faculty over the past few months have made this opportunity even more exciting.”

Pepperdine’s Heidelberg program dates back to the fall of 1963, when then president Norvel Young launched the Year-in-Europe curriculum. Since then, the University has been sending students to the medieval town on the Neckar River to further enrich their educational experience abroad. Pepperdine officially established Heidelberg as an international program in October of 1965 with the purchase of the Moore Haus—a stately mansion named after the University’s late controller and former German missionary J. C. Moore. 

Now, for more than 60 years, Heidelberg has served as a second home to thousands of students and distinctively contributed to Pepperdine’s identity as a preeminent global Christian university. Swann will serve as the fourth Heidelberg director.

Learn more about Pepperdine University’s Heidelberg campus by visiting the International Program’s website.